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‘Engineering Toxins for 21st Century Therapies’ (9–10 September 2010) was part of the Royal Society International Seminar series held at the Kavli International Centre, UK. Participants were assembled from a range of disciplines (academic, industry, regulatory, public health) to discuss the future potential of toxin-based therapies. The meeting explored how the current structural and mechanistic knowledge of toxins could be used to engineer future toxin-based therapies. To date, significant progress has been made in the design of novel recombinant biologics based on domains of natural toxins, engineered to exhibit advantageous properties. The meeting concluded, firstly that future product development vitally required the appropriate combination of creativity and innovation that can come from the academic, biotechnology and pharma sectors. Second, that continued investigation into understanding the basic science of the toxins and their targets was essential in order to develop new opportunities for the existing products and to create new products with enhanced properties. Finally, it was concluded that the clinical potential for development of novel biologics based on toxin domains was evident.